State senate rejects mining bill - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

State senate rejects mining bill

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MADISON (WAOW) --  Political leaders are calling it a debate between jobs and the environment.

Democrats argue assembly Republicans are catering to mining companies by getting rid of standards to protect the environment.

"I think we have learned throughout this whole process that the environment is really important to people in Wisconsin," State Sen. Jim Holperin, who rejected the assembly bill Tuesday night told Newsline 9 in a phone interview.

But, Governor Scott Walker said the proposed bill still would have protected the environment. And it would have also simplified the permit process, creating 2,300 jobs in the state. Despite his pitch, the senate failed to pass the mining bill by one vote. Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz was the hold out. He said he had reservations about the bill.

Now, a Florida based company called Gogebic Taconite announced it won't do business in Wisconsin.

"Those 17 senators have to explain to the people that are un-employed or under employed and explain why they couldn't compromise or why they couldn't give or take," Gov. Walker said.

Wausau economic leaders say the project could have had a trickle down effect in the local communities.

"It shows people that Wisconsin is open for business and that people want to invest in us," President and CEO of Wausau Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Zriny said.

But State Sen. Holperin isn't losing hope. He says he believes the two sides can still come together.

"I have hope that we will come together again," the state senator said. "We need mining, we need the jobs, but we need to protect the environment too."

Leaders say the bill will now go back to committee for review. But, there are other alternatives. The senate has its own bill, but it never made it to the floor for a vote. There is some time for the sides to reach a compromise, the legislative session ends March 15th.

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